Poetry, Abstraction, and the Cold War
September 19, 2014, 6:30 pm
The Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation

Join us this fall for a very special event

Talk and discussion with

Al Filreis, Kelly Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Poetry, Abstraction, and the Cold War, with special reference to Wallace Stevens and George Hitchcock

Introduced by Charles Bernstein. Co-sponsored by the Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania

Wine & cheese reception to follow.

Space is limited to 50; RSVP required by September 16 to Suggested donation: $10.

Al Filreis is Kelly Professor, Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House, Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Co-Director of PennSound, and Publisher of Jacket2 - all at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his books are 'Secretaries of the Moon, Wallace Stevens & the Actual World,' 'Modernism from Left to Right,' and 'Counter- Revolution of the Word.' He has taught a massive open online course, "ModPo," to 42,000 students in 2012 and 37,000 in 2013.

Circa 1945: Abstract Art in the Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation Collection
June 5 - September 30, 2014
The Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation

Featuring over 40 rarely-exhibited works by 19 artists from Chaim Gross's private collection:

Byron Browne, Peter Busa, Sylvia Carewe, Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Max Ernst, Arshile Gorky, John D. Graham, Chaim Gross, Marsden Hartley, Jacob Lawrence, Fernand Leger, Andre Masson, Roberto Matta, I. Rice Pereria, Pablo Picasso, Theodoros Stamos, Nahum Tschacbasov, & Ruth Vodicka.

About the exhibit:

The year 1945 has long served as a dividing line in the history of American art between pre-war and post-war art, and between the figurative painting of the Depression era and the emergence of the Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s. The 40 works in this exhibition reconsider definitions of abstraction around 1945, and embody the often-blurred lines between established categories such as figuration/abstraction, color/line, or form/content of the period. The flowing, organic still lifes of Fernand Leger; the sumptuous, Picasso-esque figurative abstraction of Byron Browne; the knife-sharp, planar bodies of the history paintings of Nahum Tschacbasov and Jacob Lawrence; and the dream-like “Indian Space Painting” of Peter Busa, influenced by the surface patterns of art from Oceania and the Pacific Northwest: these works reveal varying modes of abstract painting in America during a historical period of tremendous violence, upheaval, and change. 


Circa 1945 also considers the place of abstract painting in the private collection of Chaim Gross, a figurative sculptor who rose to fame in the United States in the 1930s and 40s. Given Gross’s humanist commitment to the figure in his own work, it may come as a surprise that he owned the abstract paintings in this exhibit, and had them on the walls of his home and studio. Yet Gross knew well most of these artists and many worked near him in Greenwich Village. John D. Graham had a studio next door and like Gross had a passionate interest in African art, while Willem de Kooning had a studio across the street. Gross worked for parts of the year up in Provincetown, as did Busa and Sylvia Carewe. The variation in these artists’ work demonstrates how the boundaries of art history are constructed, and why they should continually come under scrutiny and redefinition.